An Old Friend
Sanctuary I have always found among trees and in many ways they have saved me.
On a warm autumn day in early May, I followed a winding path into the Auckland Domain, a park that rests on an ancient volcano crater in Aotearoa, New Zealand. My old friend was still there, standing proud and strong with a mighty crown of branches and a grand display of roots stretching out, above ground, like the arms of an octopus. Ten years had passed since we last saw each other. Sitting down on one of the roots, I had never felt more rooted. Last time I sat there, I had been struggling to survive. Now, I had grown up and blossomed into a strong, rooted woman.
The park is close to Auckland Hospital where I stayed at one of the psychiatric wards during my teens. I was severely depressed, suicidal and trapped inside a mind of screaming voices. Locked inside, I was hardly ever allowed to go outside, despite the park being so close by. Thankfully, my mother sometimes received permission to take me to the park, where I loved being around the trees and especially my dear friend, an old Moreton Bay Fig tree with giant roots. Like a tree, my roots go deep and my branches grow high. If I had not taken that journey down into my own inner hell, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering on anyone, but I understand that it was a part of my journey and I know that it has given me many gifts.
Recovering from a severe depression is both a death and rebirth at the same time. From the ashes of my old life, a new life was born, and stepping forward onto my new path, I discovered a longing to truly live my life with all my heart. My journey of healing was a long one, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. I had a lot of help from family (my human family as well as my dear cats and dogs), friends and angels in disguise, and I also had to discover my own source of medicine.
If you are depressed or suicidal, or if you know someone who is suffering, please know that there is help. There is a way. Don’t give up. Find that spark of light wherever you can and warm your heart like you might blow life into a fire – fill it with what you love. In my own experience, it is the simple things and small miracles of everyday life that make the biggest difference. “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay,” are the wise words of Gandalf the Grey.
Go outside and let Mother Nature show you the way home, let her open your eyes to the miracle of life and beauty of our singing earth. Healing will take time. It is a journey that will take everything you have, but believe me, you are stronger than you realise and you will get through. Even if you feel as if you are broken and like nothing can fix you, remember, deep down, you are whole, and you are connected to the same source of life as all of nature, and like a tree you will find a way to heal. Like a tree, the journey will give you roots that go deep into the earth and branches that stretch high into the sky.